Like it vs Good at it

In the past I’ve written about the distinction between strengths – things you’re innately good at, and skills – things you learn to be good at. But recently I’ve got to thinking, why just stick with the things that come most naturally?

Now I’m naturally quite a quiet, introverted person. Because of this I doubt many people would describe me a ‘people person’, ‘charismatic’ , ‘outgoing’ or the like, but I really enjoy working with people. I guess in a way I’ve taught myself to do small talk and to be comfortable speaking to new people, and I now genuinely enjoy carrying out presentations, no matter what size the audience (a formal presentation is a great chance to speak without anyone else taking over the conversation!). I also really enjoy working in groups – sharing ideas and discussing things with others.

Maybe I have always been good at these things, just a lack of confidence held me back, but maybe some of them are skills that I’ve learnt, rather than strengths that I’ve always had. How do you tell the difference between what you’re naturally good at and what you’ve learnt to be good at? And if you enjoy it, does the distinction even matter?

bebestyouI guess what I’m really getting at here is should we be finding our authentic selves or working at becoming the people we want to be? Or is it possible to do both – are these actually the same things? According to Steve Peters in The Chimp Paradox, who you want to be who you really are, so is life an opportunity to discover yourself… or to create yourself?

I’d been planning on writing about this for a while but yesterday I found a post over at Career Avoidance 101 which is looking at a pretty similar question – Is the search for an authentic self worth the hassle?

And I think yes, it is worth the hassle. While you’re searching for this ‘authentic self’ you’re going to discover so much more – likes/dislikes/strengths/skills – so I’d say life is about discovering your authentic self AND creating the version of that self that you want to be.

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2 comments on “Like it vs Good at it

  1. I always enjoy your thought-provoking posts. I agree with you that if you’re enjoying the process, it probably doesn’t matter whether you’re innately good at it or whether you’ve developed the skill. I do think that success tends to come most readily at the intersection of passion and ability, but where exactly that “ability” comes from – practice or innate gift – is a matter of great debate. I like Malcolm Gladwell’s take on this; that really practice makes a person strong. And we tend to practice more at something we’re passionate about so…

    Thanks also for the shout out!

    • I guess the reason we look for our innate abilities in the first place is to find purpose and enjoyment, so passion has to be just as important as any kind of ability as it’s the only thing that’s going to lead to practice, increased ability and success, purpose and enjoyment. Interesting thoughts – always appreciate your comments!

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